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Old 10-11-2008, 06:39 AM
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Default Are you afraid of the large hadron collider?

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is the world's largest and the highest-energy particle accelerator complex, intended to collide opposing beams of protons, from hydrogen atoms stripped of their electrons, or lead ions, two of several types of hadrons, at over 99.999999% of the speed of light.

The LHC was built by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) with the intention of testing various predictions of high-energy physics, including the existence of the hypothesized Higgs boson and of the sparticles predicted by supersymmetry. It lies underneath the Franco-Swiss border between the Jura Mountains and the Alps near Geneva, Switzerland. It is funded by and built in collaboration with over 10,000 scientists and engineers from over 100 countries as well as hundreds of universities and laboratories.
From Wikipedia

S.Peter Davis wrote

Scientists are kind of pissed that they weren't around when the Big Bang happened. Here we had an event that holds all of the secrets to reality, and we missed it because we were lazy enough not to evolve for another 13 billion years.

The solution, science says, is to make it happen again. They assure us that they can stage a new Big Bang if they smash some protons together really, really f-ing hard. In fact, they can make a million of them per second, which is 999,999 more than God managed.

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Well, first imagine an apocalyptic nuclear holocaust. Multiply that by about one hundred and twenty thousand billion, and then multiply that by around the neighborhood of infinity. That equals around one eighth of the magnitude of the Big Bang. Nevertheless, scientists are pretty sure they can contain their Big Bang in an erlenmeyer flask, just so long as they remember to cork it

So, Basically It's Like...

Imagine you have a huge tanker truck parked outside a children's hospital. You don't know what's inside it, but you're fairly confident that it's either a cure for cancer, or 20,000 gallons of explosive nitroglycerin. To find out which, you have to shoot at it with an AK-47.

How Long Have We Got?

Meet the Large Hadron Collider.

This is not only the largest particle accelerator ever built, it's the largest anything ever built. Originally set to come online in 2005, then delayed until September 2008, the LHC will fire very small objects around its 17-mile circumference at close to the speed of light, before smashing the poop out of them and watching what comes out.

The problem, of course, is that even the eggheads don't really know what's going to happen, which is sort of why they're doing it in the first place. That's also why a lawsuit was filed to put a stop to it. Scientists on the LHC project insist there is no danger, and predict that the resulting observations could revolutionize science and send us into a golden age of knowledge, in the event that we actually survive.

Experts assure us that based on everything we know about science, the chances of doom are fairly slim. Experts also say LHC will change everything we know about science. So there is a certain chance that one of the brand new things they learn about the LHC is that the LHC has the ability turn the entire planet into a fine cloud of particles.

Now Meet Strange Matter.

As you've probably worked out by now, there's some weird crap out there in the world of science. That's because a whole lot of the fundamental theories about reality are based on mathematical equations rather than actual observation. So there are all sorts of things out there that seem to exist in theory, but we've never seen them. At least one scientist has suggested that if we ever saw them with our own eyes, it's likely that we would start screaming and never stop. Well, it wasn't so much a scientists as HP Lovecraft.

Anyway, Strange matter is one of these things. It's a hypothetical material made up of quarks, which are one of the building blocks of reality, things so small that you can't even possibly imagine. Seriously, don't even try to think about it.

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

There are two hypotheses about strange matter. One is that the stuff will simply disappear a fraction of a second after it appears. The other is that it will stabilize and convert every atom it comes in contact with into more strange matter. It could go either way, really.

There's a theory that there are entire stars out there in the universe that are made out of strange matter, just because a microscopic fragment of the stuff made contact once and then everything went to hell.

Now imagine, just theoretically, if some of this strange matter should appear on Earth. And, just theoretically, it should be stable enough to start a reaction with regular matter. Theoretically, we'd all be f-ing dead.

So, Basically It's Like...

Imagine you're like the fabled King Midas, and you have the power to convert matter with a single touch. Except that instead of gold, everything you touch turns into poop. And everything it touches turns to poop. Before you know it, the whole world is poop, and it's all your fault.

How Long Have We Got?

Luckily for us, strange matter can only be created in high-energy particle collisions, and nothing like that ever happens here, right? Oh, wait.

Meet the Large Hadron Collider. Again.

That's right, our friends at the LHC project expect a lot of weird things to pop up when they start smashing atoms together, and strange matter is one such possibility. That's why scientists have written papers with boring titles such as Will Relativistic Heavy-ion Colliders Destroy Our Planet?, the rebuttals to which were basically, "Let's turn them on and find out!"

At this point we're kind of wondering whether there's anything this machine can do that doesn't involve killing you and everyone you care about.

Risk Level: 5 of 10

Scientists respond to the strange matter problem by saying if it was ever going to happen, it would have happened already (since these kind of reactions happen a zillion times a second in our atmosphere anyway). We like to call this piece of rhetoric the cop-out hypothesis, because they know damned well that if it turns out they're wrong, there won't be anyone left to sue them.

Now there's time travel.

Hundreds of stories have been written on the subject of time travel, and just about every one of those stories involves some kind of catastrophic disaster, or at the very least, an unhappy ending.

Of course, a lot of physicists think that it's not possible at all, and that the very existence of the universe proves it. Also, if they invent time travel in the future, where are the time travelers?

But there's one lingering theory about the possibility of time travel that kind of makes a lot of sense, and that's that it's not possible until we actually build a working time machine. Maybe you can only travel back as far as the technology actually exists, and after that it's all hovering skateboards and flying steam trains.

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Of course, there are plenty of ways in which the universe can f us for daring to violate that most fundamental of laws, cause and effect. We can't even imagine them until we know the first thing about time travel, which we don't. But some speculate that the very attempt to travel back in time could result in the world exploding, imploding, collapsing, shrinking into a singularity, or simply disappearing.

But because we strive to bring you only the weirdest of possibilities, so consider the chronological collapse scenario.

In the distant future, when the stars have burned out and the planets have wobbled out of their celestial orbits, the descendents of humanity will be staring extinction in the face, and if they have access to a goddamn time machine then it's likely they're going to say "f--- this shit" and just return to a more comfortable point in history.

A flood of refugees from the future might set up home in the present and flourish, until the world ends again and they decide to do what worked last time. And again. And again. Effectively, the moment we switch on our very first time machine, our universe is going to be home to approximately infinity refugees from the future. You do the math.

So, Basically It's Like...

This: YouTube - A Train in Japan- Reserved Seats...

How Long Have We Got?

Meet the Large Goddamn Hadron F-ing Collider.

Again? What the f? Are they doing this on purpose?

OK, so there may be like a dozen ways the LHC can destroy the universe, but seriously, time travel?

Well, yes, according to some Russian scientists. Sure, there are no serious plans in motion to research into building time machines, but who says it has to be deliberate? The discovery of penicillin was a complete accident.

The theory is that the LHC might open wormholes with its high-energy collisions that future generations can manipulate for time travelling purposes. Apparently it's possible that those Swiss eggheads will switch on the machine only to find a naked Arnold Schwarzenegger asking for their clothes.

Risk Level: 7 of 10

You may be thinking, "If we get a time machine, and realize it will destroy the universe, then all we'd have to do is travel back in time and destroy the time machine! Easy!"

But then... if we destroyed the time machine, then we wouldn't be able to go back in time... so the machine would remain intact, in which case we could use it to go back and... Look, we don't know.

Okay now before you freak out that were all doomed. The eggs heads did a study. Many in fact. The upcoming experiments at the Large Hadron Collider have sparked fears among the public that the LHC particle collisions might produce doomsday phenomena, including dangerous microscopic black holes and strange matter. Two CERN-commissioned safety reviews have examined these concerns and concluded that the experiments at the LHC present no danger and that there is no reason for concern, a conclusion expressly endorsed by the American Physical Society, the world's second largest organization of physicists.

So were good right? I'd say so. What say you?

Last edited by Catfur; 08-04-2010 at 04:11 AM. Reason: language
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